Escaramuza is a sport like no other, a combination of athleticism with a respect for Mexican heritage and culture.
“Escaramuza is actually a side-saddle precision drill team of eight girls, and we sit side-saddle, it can be very strict in the sense of competitiveness,” said Carolina Rodriguez.
Rodriguez says the best way to describe it would be synchronized swimming but on horses.
The world of all female 'Charrería'
During the competitions, the group of eight women ride side-saddle while going over 15 miles an hour. It’s a highly competitive equestrian sport nationally recognized in Mexico and now gaining popularity in the U.S. as more Mexican American women carry on the tradition.
“It's very important that we just don't forget where we come from, where your family or your ancestors originated from,” stated Rodriguez.
Rodriguez says she has been riding for almost 20 years.
“It was brought down to us from our grandparents, so it's actually really, really exciting that we do get to keep that tradition going.”
Dedication is key; The eight Escaramuzas compete together, so control and rhythm are important. Higher points come from their routine, their equestrian abilities.
“We have to look exactly the same, so it's all about symmetry,” expressed America Martinez.
Martinez is the team captain at Escaramuza Charra Rayenari. She says the best feeling that the riders get from the sport is knowing that it's about the tradition that was passed down to them.
“My dad used to do this since he was little, the man's side of the sport, the charros. He's been a part of it since he was very young, he then passed on the tradition to my oldest sister and my brother. I'm the youngest of the family so it was passed on to me as well,” Martinez said.
The eight riders are not only scored on how they ride, but also their costume, the saddle, the hat, and most importantly, the dresses.
“The dresses are inspired by the 'Adelitas' who fought in the revolution in Mexico. So that's who we represent when we wear these dresses,” according to Martinez.
She says it’s never too late to become an Escaramuza, but one must have a lot of discipline.
“We have competitions throughout the year. State competitions, national competitions here in the U.S and Mexico. We practice at least twice a week to prepare for all of these competitions,” said Martinez.
But it's about more than the competition for these riders, it's about representing Mexican women's bravery to make sure their tradition keeps transcending to different generations.